The app, made by Living Hope Ministries (LHM), aims to convince people that attraction to the same sex is sinful and “convert” them away from this attraction.
Truth Wins Out (TWO), a non-profit organization working to “demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice,” according to their website, has urged Google to remove the app by launching a petition, which has currently garnered more than 140,000 signatures.
The organization says LHM “casually trashes LGBT people as living ‘destructive lifestyles’” and “repeatedly belittles transgender people as suffering from ‘gender confusion.’” They call conversion therapy and similar “ex-gay” programs “a sham.”
TWO launched a similar petition calling for the removal of the app from the Apple app store. After only one day of the petition being live, the app was removed.
While Apple had the ability to ban the app due to policies against objectionable content, Google’s terms of service are narrower. However, advocacy groups contend that the app encourages self-harm and child endangerment, which both violate the terms of service of the company.
“We have been urging Google to remove this app because it is life-threatening to LGBTQ youth and also clearly violates the company’s own standards,” a Human Rights Campaign spokesperson told Axios. “Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have taken action to remove the app from their platforms, but so far Google has refused despite our warnings about the dangers.”
Supporters of the app affirm that LHM doesn’t “offer, promote, or recommend conversion therapy or anything of the sort.” A similar petition to the one hosted by TWO was started in support of the app, calling on Apple to put it back up on its store. It currently has just 33 signatures.
“We are hopeful that technology companies recognize the harm of apps that promote conversion therapy,” Amit Paley, the CEO of the Trevor Project, told Axios. “The Trevor Project hears from conversion therapy survivors in crisis every day, and we remain committed to ending the harmful practice in every state because we know it contributes to an increased risk of suicidal behavior among LGBTQ youth.”
Conversion therapy has been denounced by several major professional medical associations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, as being ineffective and harmful. There have been numerous pushes to outlaw the practice on minors across the country, including in Georgia.